Founded in 1949, it’s easy to see why Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes was the first National Park in all of Southeast Europe. It’s also no surprise that it became one of the earliest natural landscapes placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, back in 1979.
Plitvice is located in a karst region, an area where soluble limestones are heavily eroded by flowing water. Of course, the calcium carbonate dissolved by rivers and streams in such landscapes has to go somewhere, and that’s what makes Plitvice so special.
Within the upper part of the Koruna River valley, the dissolved calcium carbonate is redeposited as a sediment known as travertine, to produce a series of stepped barriers. This is one of the reasons Rich was particularly excited to see Plitvice, since his Ph.D. thesis (and subsequent scientific positions) centred around a special type of travertine, known as tufa.
In Plitvice, the sequence of travertine barrages form a natural staircase of 16 lakes of varying sizes, each at a lower altitude than the preceding one. The first 12 of these constitute the Upper Lakes, while the remaining four are known as the Lower Lakes. And over the barriers separating these lakes tumble countless waterfalls.
In some instances the water bubbles over itself, seeming almost to boil as it rushes across the travertine.
In other places, where the barriers are taller, the water falls as veils, which often become little more than a spray of mist by the time they reach the lake below.
And wrapping around the lakes, the travertine barriers and the streams and waterfalls that connect them, is a network of remarkable raised boardwalks.
While you’re marvelling at the beauty of Plitvice, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?
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